Getting Ready for Writer’s Conference 2015

Name: Jill Johnston

Location: Schertz, TX

What you write/tagline/trademark: Speculative & Inspirational  / Grace & Peace / “God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it.”

Place in the book world: Unpublished. Currently working on a YA  Time Trilogy and a fantasy trilogy Chronicles of Or.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: love to hug people after I get to know them.

The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Prayer, any type Speculative fiction/media, Whole 30/Paleo, my granddaughter

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My daughter and her husband are flying in from Hawaii (military transfer) with my one-year-old, too-cute-for-words granddaughter !!!while I’m at the conference :o( !!!
Of course my husband and high school senior, last-one-in-the-nest, son.
And an adorable, looks like and named after an Ewok, Griffonshire named Wicket.

Conference goals we can pray for? To learn and grow in my writing. To meet new friends with the same passion for writing, for speculative fiction and for prayer. To be open to where and when God wants to take me on my writing journey.

Anything we can celebrate with you? After conference, I return home to see my one-year-old, too-cute-for-words granddaughter.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can “like” my Facebook page and/or “friend” my Facebook profile.  You can sign up for my tablets of human hearts blog.   I also tweet @JillEngJohnston and have Pinterest boards for my works in progress Jill Eng Johnston 


Treat every piece as if it’s under contract

A few weekends ago I attended the local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) chapter meeting.  Being the middle of summer,  a small crowd was in attendance.  Toward the end of the meeting, after discussing the few agenda items we needed to cover, our president, Allison Pittman, decided to revisit a comment made earlier in the meeting.   A young writer had lamented about the curse of the blinking cursor and what to do when the page and the mind is blank (aka writer’s block).  Our gracious president, always wanting to encourage, asked for input from the other attendees.  We all took a few minutes to share some ideas of what we do when the idea-well seems dry and uninspired.  Allison also shared her thoughts and she said something worth jotting down (which I did), repeating, and sharing (so I am.)

She said, “treat every piece as if it’s under contract.”

Sounds simple enough, right?  But how often have we worked on something and eventually grown tired of it?  Maybe the storyline became stale.  Maybe the characters turned out boring.  Or maybe we were just frustrated with how the whole thing wasn’t coming together.  Whatever the reason, if we’re honest, we’ve had the moment when we wanted to chuck it all and start on something fresh.

However, the author who is actually under contract for a piece of work does not have that option.  He or she must perservere, must press on through the moment, and keep going until finished, because someone else has invested in it.  So what about the uncontracted writer like me?  Or even an author who is toying around with an idea currently not under contract?  What about those pieces we are working on?

After all, there’s no deadline.  No one has invested in the story yet or expressed any interest in it.  If the going gets rough, shouldn’t  the piece be crumpled up and tossed into the circular file (or the more up-to-date version, the document moved to the trash folder)?

Allison says no.  She says, “treat every piece as if it’s under contract.”  An uncontracted piece deserves the same respect as a contracted one.   I like that.  Maybe if I change the way I see my work in progress, I won’t be so quick to hit delete.  The story, the life I have given it, the time I have invested, should not be something discarded so easily; it is something of value and deserves to be seen through to the end.  It deserves to be finished.

So from this day forth I choose to treat every piece I write as if it’s under contract.  I will not give up on it but persevere through the moment and keep on going until it is finished.  I will give it the respect it deserves.  Thank you Allison.

Please be sure to visit her site at:


Those who have gone before

An ancient writer once penned the thought that since we are surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, we should strip off everything that slows us down or holds us back, especially whatever easily trips us up.  And we should run with endurance the particular race our Creator has made us for and has set before us.

I love the fact that our Creator has made us for something special, something unique.  We are created in His image, and since He creates, we too can reflect Him in our creativity.  He is the Master Story Writer and it is with delight that I find myself drawn into His big upper story, into all of our lower stories, and even into the stories we create, tell, and write.

Over the past three years I have submersed myself in growing as a writer.  It all started with a story idea at the beginning of November 2011.  Through FaceBook, I discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and, because the time had finally come, I started writing again.  I haven’t looked back.  What I have done, though, is search internet blog sites and book stores for direction, advice and expertise on the craft.  I also began attending a writer’s group and joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).  I am rejoicing as the Lord brings into my life the opportunity to hear from, meet, and talk to published authors.  I am awed by the place I am in.

It can be overwhelming, but I am so excited to be a part of it.  I have a long list of books on my “to read” list, but a few I have already found helpful are:

James Scott Bell:
Write Your Novel From The Middle
Plot & Structure

James Lofquist:
Tell, Don’t Show!

Gloria Kempton
Write Great Fiction – Dialogue

And a few of the websites I follow are:

C.S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive
K.M Weiland at Helping Writers Become Authors
Hilari Bell at Hilari Bell

What a blessing it is to live in the time we do, like none that has preceded.  Never before have we had access to so many of those who have gone before and who are willing to teach us, mentor us, share with us what they have learned so that we can follow in their footsteps.  This is true for many activities, but, obviously, I specifically mean writing. At the touch of my keyboard, I can find websites filled with valuable instruction on perfecting the craft of story telling, books overflowing with ideas, guidance and help with writing, as well as conferences across the country.   I look forward to every connection with those who are also on the journey and with those who have gone before.

The road not taken

The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I love this poem (along with his Nature’s First Green is Gold).

Many years ago I took the only road I thought I could, but looking back, I realize the road then really did diverge.  I had the choice to stay, or the choice to take the road less traveled.  The choice was clear, which was why I thought there was only one road.  I chose the one less traveled.  It led me down a path of many adventures and travels.  I learned and experienced many things down that road.  

But always, there was something missing.  

That road eventually diverged again and I had to choose which to take.  With delight I find myself on the road I longed for then.  The road of writing.

True, I did write during those years: journals, papers, essays, poems, bible studies, children’s plays, cards and letters.  But never did I sit down and tackle the Stories that filled my heart.  

So here I am, now on the road of Story and “knowing how way leads on to way, I doubt if I should ever come back.”